"Oh, my God! I can't believe it! I haven't seen you in forever!"
She ran toward me, arms outstretched, and wrapped herself around me. I stood stock still, not wanting to encourage it. She wore too much perfume.
The hug was uncomfortably long, and I silently cursed myself as I stood there. You know she lives right down the street. Why did you have to come in this grocery store? Are you stupid or something?
She released me from the hug, and slid her arm down mine to capture my hand. "Oh, it's been so long! Too long! How long has it been? Six, seven..."
"Eight years," I said. I had successfully avoided her for eight years.
"Eight years!" she gasped. "Listen, we just have to get together. Give me your number and I'll call you to set something up."
Jesus, no. No, do NOT give her your number.
"Sure, here, I'll write it down." What are you doing? Why are you giving her your phone number? Have you lost your mind?
"Oh this is fantastic! I can't believe I ran into you. I will call you soon and we'll have lunch!" She gave my hand a tight squeeze and left in a cloud of perfume.
This is the woman who threw up in your car. I said to myself.
She screams at her children.
She's never been to a library.
She drinks white zinfandel, for God's sake.
I wondered how difficult it would be to change my number.
She called the next day at ten, and I didn't answer the phone. She called again at noon. And two, and four, and six. She left a message each time, and each one made her sound slightly more insane. She repeated this pattern of calls for three days straight, and each time the phone rang, I jumped. Finally, I unplugged it.
On the fourth day, I glanced out my front window to see an unfamiliar car pull in the driveway. As I peeked through the blinds, I saw her get out of the driver's side and practically sprint to the front door. I dove behind the couch, my heart racing.
"Hello!" she called out. "Hello! Are you home?"
This bitch is crazy, I thought. The doorbell fell silent, and I crawled from behind the couch. As I started to stand, I glanced out the window and saw her looking through the blinds. Our eyes locked, and I did what any sane, normal person would do. I dropped down and crawled back behind the couch.
I began checking my rearview mirror, watching for signs of her sedan. I kept the phone unplugged. I went through the back door at work, and started ordering my groceries online.
"You're being a total whackjob," my friend said. "Why don't you just be a grownup, call her, and tell her you don't want to be friends."
"No one does that!" I said, "How rude!"
"Yeah, because diving behind your couch when someone rings your doorbell isn't at all rude."
Her name started turning up in the strangest places. A coworker mentioned spending a weekend with her. There she was on the social page of the paper. She was listed as incoming President in a club I had been wanting to join. I couldn't get away from her.
Then one day, I made the mistake of stopping at the drug store to get toothpaste. There, trapped between the shelves and an endcap display of mouthwash, she found me.
"There you are!" she cried, and wrapped her arms around me. Her hug was too tight and her perfume choked me. "Have you been avoiding me?" she whispered in my ear. "Oh, dear. Don't you know I'm everywhere?"
2 weeks ago